Mrduja Regatta Maritime Accident: Charterers Refuse Help, Young Duje Swims to Brač in Bura

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by Sonja Babić,

The charterers refused to help us, while the young Duje swam all the way to Brač in strong wind and rough sea.’

As we’ve already reported, the strong wind caused several problems during this year’s Mrduja Regatta. A few boats sank or ran aground, while several men got thrown off the boat into the sea. Such was the situation with the Remorker boat with Ozren Marušić, sailor of sailing club JK Split, at the helm, along with his two members –  Martin Mikelić (34) and Duje Dobronić (15).

“Duje is at home, alive and healthy. He came home before us. Everything is fine, except for the fact that we didn’t expect to have a swim and our ship has sunk. Here we are now towing it to Lučica port in Split, and when repaired, we will go to the European Sea-Scape Sailing Championships at Lago di Garda Lake in Italy,” said Ozren Marušić, sailor of JK Split who was one of the most sought-after persons on Saturday during the Mrduja Regatta.

The 41-year-old Ozren Marušić was at the helm of the 5.5-metre-long “Remorker”, which lost one member of the crew during sailing – Duje Dobronić, a 15-year-old student of Nautical High School in Split, reports Slobodna Dalmacija on October 9, 2017.

“Some 500 meters from Brač, before the Gomilica cape, the wind intensified and we dived bow-first into the wave, which had thrown Duje off the ship. The boy laughed, raised his thumb up signalling he’s okay, while we shouted: We’re coming back for you! He wasn’t hurt, and he began to swim toward us while we lowered the mainsail, but then we got swept away by a strong gust of wind of almost 50 knots.

Both Martin and I fell into the sea, the ship turned, and the part of the keel which keeps the sailboat from sinking had broken off, which is why we couldn’t turn the right way around and sail again. What’s more, a 1.5-metre-high way swept over us, so we couldn’t see Duje anymore.”

Failed dive

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“I tried to dive underneath the boat to find a cell phone and call for help, but there was too many ropes around my head and other equipment, and the boat kept leaping over the wave above me which created additional problems so I had to give up looking. The only thing left for us was to stick to the boat and shout for help,” explained Ozren.

He also mentioned that both Martin and he yelled out to a charter boat passing by, which was a type of Bavaria 46 boat named “Lela Doranjski”, but the charterers carried on forward not paying any attention to the sailors and the sunken ship only 30 metres away from them.

“Fortunately, Tiho Josipović on board “Nanar 2″ from JK Split and his crew came to help us, although I have to admit, we barely climbed up their boat due to rough sea and strong wind. We immediately called 112 and told that one of our crew members was at sea. After having contacted them again, my wife Ivana called four minutes later to say that she talked with Duje’s mom who told that Duje is in Sutivan. Duje had, in fact, swam all the way to Gomilica, some hundred metres away, where fellow sailors with captain Marin Tonči Rosandić, whose boat Stella Polaris” ran aground nearby, helped out.

The dinghy of the Croatian mountain rescue service (HGSS) came to help Duje, as well as the Stella Polaris crew, and drove him to Sutivan. I have organized for a friend to pick him up, give him dry clothes and drive him to Supetar where he took a ferry to Split, where his mother welcomed him. Duje was already home, safe and dry when he read that people had been looking out for him,” said Marušić with a sigh of relief that everything went well.  Marušić also promptly organised for his Remorker boat to be immediately taken out from the sea on Sunday.

Translated from Slobodna Dalmacija

Photos: HGSS

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